altBlackpool’s Clancy Mason catches up with Graham Moore from The Blue Room Community Pub, one of the five individuals behind the efforts to raise funds to secure the future for this historic venue.
CM: Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves? What brought the five of you together?
GM: We’re all from Blackpool originally, and are long-standing friends that used to use the pub socially. We’ve played in bands that performed at the pub, and have promoted many gigs and events that took place there. I used to run an Open Mic night and a quiz night and Iain was a sound engineer and had a recording studio upstairs. Rob and Gareth attended a Blackpool Football Club rally last year which started at The Blue Room – the idea to try to save it came from there. Iain and Dave were naturally supportive and the project begun to gather pace…
CM: Why the Blue Room? What makes this place so special as opposed to other Blackpool venues?
GM: It’s history and what it represents. When we applied to have the pub classified as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ (ACV) with Blackpool Civic Trust we did so because we believe the pub is special. It’s much more than just a ‘boozer’. It has been a hub of creativity that showcases original music, plays host to alternative events and takes chances on projects that may not otherwise have found a home. We also believe that The Blue Room is the perfect location to open a specialised real ale pub in the heart of town offering an unrivalled selection of beers and ciders.
Additionally, the pub is also the birthplace of Blackpool Football Club. Given the club’s current off-the-field problems, we thought it important to preserve the pub and protect it from redevelopment.
CM: What have the responses been like to your plans to reopen the venue as a Community Pub?
GM: Largely very positive. We held a public consultation at Raikes Hall in November which was well attended and attracted a lot of pledges of support – in terms of both financial investment and practical/skilled help with renovations and repairs. Now the share offer is live, we’ve seen steady progress towards our target that will allow us to complete the purchase.
We’ve also had a lot of help from The Plunkett Foundation, the government’s More Than A Pub scheme, Blackpool Civic Trust, Blackpool Supporter’s Trust, The Tangerine Knights and several individual councillors.
Blackpool doesn’t have a community-owned pub at present, so communicating what we are actually trying to do has presented some challenges. Once people realise that we’re not doing this for personal gain or kudos, but to genuinely try to improve the town and help the community, they tend to be very supportive.
CM: Are there examples of places in the UK/Europe that you have been inspired by that might influence what the Blue Room might look and feel like?
GM: The Fox and Goose in Hebden Bridge is a great example of a pub that was saved, bought and owned by it’s community, but we think the Blue Room is unique and we hope that there will be nowhere else quite like it once we’re up and running.
However, given the fact that this is a community purchase, how the pub might eventually look and feel will essentially be down to the members who purchase shares. That said, we are committed to eventually opening a micro brewery on the site and selling our own beers as well as those from other local breweries.
Live music is also going to play a big part in how the pub is set up. Whilst we wouldn’t want that to be the sole focus of the pub, we understand the need to give a platform to local up-and-coming bands and artists.
We are also committed to creating multi-purpose performance and exhibition space for non-musical artists/creative types to showcase their talents.
CM: What might a visitor expect to see / experience when they visit the Blue Room?
GM: A wide selection of quality beers, ales and ciders in a comfortable, pleasant setting. Friendly staff, reasonable prices, and top quality entertainment from Blackpool and beyond.
CM: Why is it so important to you that this be a community pub as opposed to a more traditional commercial venture?
GM: We think that once free from the shackles of the PubCo that currently owns the building, the pub is ideally placed to help regenerate and bring life back to that whole area of town.
By re-investing profits back into the pub and continually striving to improve, we believe we can create a venue that appeals to the wider community and offers a hub to Blackpool’s disenfranchised creative types. Private, for-profit ownership isn’t really compatible with our model.
The Blue Room Community Pub currently has a share offer available. The minimum investment is £100, which will grant you 1 share. You can invest anything from £100 (1 share) to £20,000 (200 shares). Whatever your investment, you’ll become a member of the society and shall have the right to shape its future.
The Blue Room Community Pub seek to raise at least £250,000. This will be used to purchase the building, cover legal fees and undertake renovations to allow it to open in the summer of 2017. A stretch target of £280,000 has been set and if we are successful in reaching this target, further renovation work can be undertaken to the upper floors.
Shares are available to buy until Tuesday 11th April. You can find more information, including the business plan and how to purchase shares on their Crowdfunder page.
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